After practice earlier this week, Wichita State redshirt freshman Alie Decker followed Jody Adams up to her office to talk.
She told her coach she wanted to be tough and play aggressively, two things that don’t come instinctively. Adams opened her desk drawer, removed a rubber band and gave it to Decker to wear every day in practice.
“Every drill she snaps it and it’s a little reminder to be aggressive and to be tough for this team,” Adams said. “When she is in aggressive mode and has the right mentality, she’s very, very effective on both sides of the ball for us.”
Decker will look to bring her new mentality into WSU’s home game Thursday evening against Arkansas State at Koch Arena.
Not that she needed much of a change, as the Edmond, Okla., native has scored in double figures in four straight games and is coming off a season-high of 14 points in a road win over Sam Houston State last week.
Decker has resisted the urge to float around the perimeter and only look for her three-point shot. Instead, this season she has shown a new effort to attack the basket. That effort has also translated on the defensive end, where Decker has gone from a liability to gaining Adams’ trust and play more than 20 minutes a game.
“I need to be a detailed player,” Decker said. “That toughness just allows me to do my role on the team and help my team succeed. The rubber band works perfectly to remind me of that.”
Another player beginning to improve is freshman Jaleesa Chapel, who had her best game as a Shocker when she returned to her home state of Texas in the Sam Houston State win.
Adams has noticed a change in mentality in Chapel during practice, which gave the coach the confidence to play her a season-high 26 minutes. Chapel responded with her best game, logging career-bests in points (9), rebounds (3), and assists (2).
“Since that game, it’s given me a lot more confidence saying that I can play at this level,” Chapel said. “I needed that, and I want to thank Jody for giving me that opportunity because it was a good experience for me.”
While Adams has been pleased with the development of Decker and Chapel, she is still looking for more from the duo on Thursday.
“What I’ve asked for is consistency,” Adams said. “Let’s not just have one good game. Let’s string together good practices, string together back-to-back-to-back good games. We’re looking for consistency now.”